Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rebel? How?

Chris Hedges writes at least one essay a week, published at Truthdig and Common Dreams (maybe elsewhere too). His writings can be depressing, he is unafraid of telling the dark unvarnished truth (as he sees it) about our political situation in the USA and in the world; he's one of the few brave enough to do so regularly. This week his essay is titled
"Rise Up or Die". Links to both sources and accompanying comments:
Common Dreams

Key paragraphs from Rise Up or Die:

"Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power."

"More than 100 million Americans—one-third of the population—live in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations—Viacom, General Electric, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Clear Channel and Disney. The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible."

"A handful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything—wealth, power and privilege—and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia. "

"It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none. It is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare. It is time to march to the beat of our own drum. The law historically has been a very imperfect tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word “hope.” "

" ........We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville’s warning must become ours. Rise up or die.
The question hangs over the engaged reader: Rise up? How? Especially for those of us marooned in red states, and probably most in need of a rising up....but how?

A few commenters raised similar questions. Here are one or two of the responses - I feel certain none would object to my using their words, with screen-name credit here:

The way to sabotage the corporate machine is to back a nationwide boycott –– for tactical reasons, one product or service at a time. Some business savvy committee of an able activist organization should consider (carefully) which corporation to target first. Then let the publicity about the boycott go forth on blogs and around water coolers. The more foul the corporation, the easier the sell to friends and family, with little physical risk or hardship to them.

Change one buying habit at a time. Much easier than changing people's politics or world view. Boycott! The only question is which corporation is to be tagged first and which organization is best equipped to decide the order of these rolling boycotts. Don't Occupy. Boycott!!!
(John Janitz)

Good question. Is anybody out there ready for some answers? All readers, all people, are you ready?? Because the answers will turn your "be good" mentality upside down. The solutions available will mess with our heads, but since it's our heads that are all "f'd" up, that's where we MUST start.

1. Get over your compliant and fearful and embarrassed attitudes. Forget what other people will say or think. What other people think of you is their problem. There will be NO change until you get that. Until you get THAT, the world is doomed.

2. Yes, it's about you! Not "us", not the stop looking for a leader. BE A LEADER. Good grief! We all need to get some guts! "Don't go where the path leads. Make a path for other's to follow."

3. Do the exact opposite of what the sheep do. Now this is going to tick some people out there off (and I rest my case about the "be good" programming we have all been inculcated with; to the benefit of the oppressors and the endless, bottomless system of deceit.) For example,

a. If you get ticketed because of a surveillance camera at an intersection, FIGHT IT. RAISE HELL. Make your case to the judge and don't back down. Be heard.

b. If your kid gets sent home from school for making a gun with his fingers or drinking herb tea or some other idiotic control madness, FIGHT IT. RAISE HELL. Make your case to the school board and don't back down. Be heard.

c. Humans are animals that have been overly domesticated in order to serve the system. Recognize when and how you are under attack and don't stand still for abuse. A lioness doesn't wonder what will happen to her when she protects her cubs. She just does it. A hummingbird will attack a person too close to the nest. Period. Nature is in you and nature is GOOD. Find it!

d. Understand your rights are not granted by government. Rights to freedom, the pursuit of happiness, life, health, home, equality, truth, and justice are given by Life itself, what some call God, or Divine Right. It's time to stop being owned. Get that in your head, first, and all else will follow.

e. Stop watching the damn television set!

f. Demand from grocers, growers, legislators and anybody that will listen that your food be labeled properly: GMO's anyone? Good God, it's gone mad...ARE YOU INFORMED????

g. Do you know what Fukishima is doing to this planet? GET INFORMED. Oppose nuclear power in all its forms. It's the death knell.

h. Don't donate to churches!! Give money to any one of the millions who are in dire need. You won't have to go far...your neighborhood is ripe with suffering.

i. Don't donate to money-sucking corporate jokes like the American Cancer Society or the United Way. Give money to someone you know who needs it.

j. Don't judge/exlude/condemn other people: stop persecuting smokers, (government wants you to do that as they are one of the many litmus tests for the cessation of personal liberty) stop railing against the poor as if they are the leeches of the world, and go out of your way to help old people. Kindness kills evil and evil is inciting people to cold indifference and separation. Honest to God, we've gone mad and the only cure for our insanity is love and decency of mutual respect.

k. Don't use credit cards routinely. Work with cash as much as you can. Buy used items. NEVER go into Walmart, or KFC, or any of the corporate monstrosities that have gotten more money than God and more power than Congress because we made them stinking rich. Shop local. Don't buy junk. Live lean.

l. Defend the defenseless. Speak up. Somebody been beaten by the cops? Somebody being mauled by the system? Step UP. Don't look the other way. You're next. Guaranteed.

This list could go on....there are thousands of ways to rebel.

It begins with attitude, folks. Get strong. Lead. Don't follow. (Sarah)

All revolution is local. The best way to rebel/revolt is first to know the painful truths of empire and not be afraid of them. Then we must communicate those truths directly through words or indirectly through action to friends, family, neighbors, at work, etc. on a daily basis. Then we also need to have faith that the revolution will necessarily have to spread gradually, slowly, and unpredictably over time until it reaches a tipping point (which may or may not be in our lifetimes). We must therefore not be afraid to feel sad and angry to some extent every day, because that is the right way to feel, and those feelings impel us to continue to resist on a daily basis, and over the course of our lives. (Feeling sad and angry daily does not mean we can't also feel love, joy, etc. as well, because we will be living a good life, fighting the good fight).

All other actions (e.g. Occupy) while beautiful and good, will be easily resisted by empire until the local work is done, and that may take many years. In order to be successful, we must take the long view, we must be patient, and we must have faith that acting locally, one person at a time, will spread.

There are but a few people I encounter who are aware of this state of affairs and even fewer willing to take any action -- most of them are deceived and deluded by their blind faith in the institutions they trust to ultimately "do the right thing" for the people. They are ensconced in a cocoon of daily ritual -- job, family, and entertainment -- unable to accept the vast dysfunction as anything but an aberration that those in charge will "fix" given enough time. "Obama is a nice guy who's trying to do the right thing against overwhelming opposition, and I support him", one fellow told me. The problem is not just the "lesser of two evils" illusion, it is the lack of imagination of how things could be different if they would consider alternatives. That applies not only to elections, but to every aspect of life. Individuals' minds already have been enslaved, and their critical faculties have been dulled by distractions and material comforts. The only way the dire predicament we are facing will be confronted is through the impact of disaster, which is destined repeatedly to befall us.(norecovery)

Most of us who are older here have all seen the same things. I can only tell you how I deal with sense of helplessness and inevitability when it threatens. I have 8 neighbors. Of those, 6 are as you describe. One is an ardent supporter of power. Another sympathetic to the people's cause. Forget about 7 of those 8. You live for that one. You are not trying to wake everyone up or persuade the world of anything. That would be futility at its grandest. The good news is that you don't need to. Historical conflicts are waged by minorities. We don't need everyone on board. We just need enough.(drone1)

This should be all about rebellion, not violent revolution: it means finding ways to stop "feeding the beast" as a first step, and doing what each of us can to raise awareness. It'll seem like a pretty pointless exercise for a while, but at some point, if enough of us participated, a powerful single movement would eventually form, embracing any seminal movements which are already out there, and a leader would emerge. I have faith in that old saying "cometh the hour, cometh the man" (nowadays it could well be a woman); or a slightly different version of the same idea: "when the student is ready a teacher will appear". "The hour" is perhaps not quite here yet, "the students" (us) not quite up to scratch. It's up to us, all of us who see the sense in Chris Hedges' words and in suggestions from those commenters, to make sure that when "the hour" does eventually "cometh" - we'll recognise, understand, and have done all we can to help things along.

There's a video of a brief interview with Chris Hedges on this topic at Common Dreams today:


Anonymous said...

A rebellion-revolution is unsettling to a majority of Americans that have something to lose. Much easier when there's nothing left to lose, as history has confirmed.

Most Americans possess a major failing: we luv our possessions and modicum of financial security (greed in a self-interested fashion) that we've toiled hard to call our own. Many of us work or own stock shares (outright or in retirement funds) in the very same companies that are so despised by the mainstream. Many of us receive bonuses or high pay for our novel concepts toward customer abuse. The oppressors and victims can share complicity.

We modern humans have a difficult task differentiating groups of humans (corporations, government) from individuals. We tend to view groups as something separate from ourselves and fail to see that groups are collectives of the individual. We, as individuals, have allowed the collective to assimilate us with a set of rules disparate from the individual.

We individuals could change all of this today, if we are willing to gamble everything we own and stop being the good consumers that we are and protest our governments. Ain't gonna happen...too much comfort to forfeit. Even the disenfranchised poor here in the U.S. have something to lose.

We Americans need to confront ourselves and view our relationship to our demise.

DC said...

Really great blog post.
Best ever IMO.
It's one of the reasons I follow you....concise blather or babble.
My opinion is really mute so I won't waste time expressing it. The writing is on the wall.

Anonymous said...

Research well known non-profits and see what the salaries are of their governance. You will be surprised as to where some of your donations are going and the number of vice-presidents, executive diyrectors, etc. whose 6 figure paycheck plus benefits you are supporting. Many are receiving pensions and golden parachutes from previous positions and are in effect, double dipping while cutting benefits of lower staff members.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Valid points, Anon!
The stocks and shares issue is one foreign to me, personally, but I appreciate the point you are making.
I realise the practice is common here in the USA, whereas in Britain for ordinary people it was, as far as I knew, fairly rare, other than as a hobby with which to play around.

I agree that we are not yet at the point of outright rebellion because there's too much to lose for too many people. What's important is that people begin to see where this road is leading, and do what they can to counteract it. Even just by making-do with stuff they already have rather than buying the newest version or latest rather than replace.....anything to begin starving the beast.

This thing began long ago in small imperceptible ways - it can begin to change and eventually die using small imperceptible (for now) ways too.

Twilight said...

DC ~ Thanks DC - Really though praise belongs to Chris Hedges and the commenters I've quoted. They all said what I'd have liked to say myself. I wanted to spread their word a wee bit wider, in the best way I could.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Thanks - yes this is something many people don't realise. The bigger the "non-profit" organisation, the bigger the con-tricks and cream-skimming - in many cases.

LB said...

Hi Twilight - I agree with much of what Anonymous 1 of 6 said. How can we rebel, when we don't even agree on *what* it is that we value, let alone how we get there? To some extent, I think the corruption that exists within our most powerful institutions and systems is a reflection of our own inner corruption - a natural consequence of society's misplaced values and trust. Many of us have become intellectually and morally lazy, self-serving and compliant. We come through in big emergencies, but miss the multitude of small practical opportunities we're presented with each and every day.

The most meaningful rebellion will be the one that begins within each of us as individuals. There are a lot of different ways to become involved, but first we have to make the effort to open our eyes and care, to treat every person we encounter -friend or enemy- in the same way we'd wish to be treated, even if it involves a measure of personal sacrifice (or effort) for the long-term greater good.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Hi there! Thanks for your observations - wise words.

Our world has to be a reflection of us - or of what we have allowed it to become, through either ignorance, inaction, apathy or, as you said, misplaced trust and skewed values. An analogy I keep coming back to in my own mind is tobacco smoking. We didn't know how deadly its long-term consequences would be, we didn't see any wrong in it - back then. Now there is no arguing about it. Same situation with the mess the country and world are in now. The people were unaware of long term consequences of their growing addiction to certain ways of life.

People didn't fully accept smoking was so bad for them for a long time, and for many it was already too late when they did. I hope that will not happen in this current political scenario, but I fear it will take a few more shocks to the system and some painful losses for some before common sense takes over and rebellion against past addictions kicks in.

LB said...

Smoking is a good analogy, Twilight. Decades ago -before we knew what we now know- I was as 'addicted' to smoking as they come, but gave it up immediately once I finally realized how damaging it was. When I started, I didn't know it could hurt me and I didn't much care how my smoking affected anyone else. Before I quit, it took several years to recognize my 'right' to smoke didn't make it okay to smoke around people who were harmed by my habit. There were very few restrictions placed on smokers back then and not many people spoke up, but once I fully understood I changed my behavior anyway.

I still struggle with the responsibility that comes with knowing - deciding where and how to make the effort and what to give up. Once we know, I guess it's not just a matter of how much we're willing to sacrifice, but also how much we're willing to tolerate before we act, if ever. Denial is a powerful thing - it makes life so much easier in the short-term. I'm not immune.:(

Twilight said...

LB ~ Likewise! I had a similar experience with cigarettes, only came to my senses about smoking after losing my father from its side effects. 5 years later my mother succumbed to lung/brain cancer due to her heavy smoking in earlier years -she too had stopped when my father became ill, but too late to save her. Those were painful losses, painful enough to ensure I never slipped back into a bad habit.

That's what will turn the corner for those still complacently carrying on with regard to other matters of lifestyle now. Pain and loss.

I struggle with what to give up now too, I'm no angel in that (or any other) regard. So many of the suggestions made, to "get off the grid" for instance, are out of the question for us, at our age, in our circumstances.
Growing our own veggies not possible in this climate - without lots of irrigation. Water is being mildly rationed here already - and will become more stringently so as time goes on.
Avoiding the worst of commercialism isn't difficult, looking for used items rather than new, or buying at Goodwill and thrift stores has been part of our practice for years.

If I had to give up TV completely, I guess I could, with a struggle - and turn to reading instead - it'd be difficult for us as we're at home all day, and all evening. We compromise by watching lots of used DVDs and VHS tapes, and watching mainly films on HBO or TCM with no commercials. Musical talent shows are one guilty pleasure though. Gotta have a few guilty pleasures otherwise......insanity might beckon!

I'm going to keep working on it, reminding myself of the things I should or should not be doing for the sake of the future. :-)

LB said...

Putting aside my occasional indulgences, we also live in an environment with certain practical limitations. And while I'm definitely *not* a saint, like you I try not to use my imperfection as an excuse not to try to do better.:)

Anonymous said...

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

Twilight said...

LB ~ Fighting unfettered capitalism is new to all of us, it'll take time for us to get both our personal and communal acts together. :-)

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Yes -if only little by little.

Anonymous said...

An interesting editorial by Cass Sunstein implying belief and a recognition of what isn't known may be beneficial toward democracy and moderation of the extremes:

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Thanks for the link.
As I suppose, by Sunstein's definition I'm probably something of a "wingnut" of the left, I have to disagree that extremism is always a bad thing.

Without wingnut left-wing thinking women wouldn't have the vote, segregation would still be rife, etc.etc.etc.

Wingnut extremist thinking is sorely needed when the nation's and world's balance has become..well...unbalanced. Things have become that way now in the matter of corporatism, unfettered capitalism, drone-killing of innocent victims, to name a few symptoms of our imbalance.

I didn't get from the article what you pointed out, though, Anon - perhaps I read it with the wrong mindset - maybe you could explain further?